Module Course Exploration and Decision Making

Introduction

Choosing the right course

Whether you're transitioning from school or TAFE, upskilling, returning to study or re-thinking your course selection as a current university student, choosing the right course for you can seem like an impossible task.

This unit is designed to build on your findings from Finding My Direction by further exploring, step by step, the course and career ideas that were generated, to help you make an informed decision about which course to choose.

First things first - De-stress

This unit will help you explore options that are available to you based upon the knowledge, skills and interests that you currently have. The choice you make as a result of this process does not lock you in for life, contrary to what you may have been told by parents, teachers or significant others. You are allowed to change your mind if you realise that you have made the wrong decision, many people do!

We'd rather you feel good about coming to uni... than feel like this...

Some facts about careers

  • In the modern world of work people may have multiple job roles in multiple sectors. This is OK and really quite common.
  • Very few people these days will have a 'job for life' as your parents or grandparents may have had.
  • It is not all about the degree - a degree in isolation will not guarantee you a job, it is more about the package you present .

Don't worry, you don't need to do all of this on your own. Your course is designed to equip you with some of these skills and there are many support structures available through the Careers Service, once you are here, to help you develop a good package in addition to the skills and opportunties you create for yourself.

So, take the time to do the research and fully explore the course that will best suit you! Then the next step is to work out how to get into the course... so read on!

Topic 1 University entry options

The truth about university entry options

There are many pathways into university, and once you are studying, there are many pathways within your degree or between degrees.

Topic 2 Starting to explore interests and ideas

In order to explore your career and degree interests you need to reflect on who you are and where your interests lie. From here you can explore these interests further, whilst being mindful of who you are - your skills, temperament, personal style, influences and goals. By reflecting on what you have learnt about yourself in the Finding My Direction topic you can assess how well these options match your interests, values and personality.

How to start: Try to think of as many interests as possible. Even if you have discounted a job for some reason, it is important to include it, especially if there are certain aspects of it that still appeal to you. For example, you may have rejected Law because you've heard that Lawyers work very long hours and it gets very stressful.

However, not all Law students want to become Lawyers and there may be other jobs better suited to these students that require an understanding of the Law. So, keep an open mind. It is important to research for yourself the pros, cons and realities of jobs before making a decision.

Activity One: Starting to explore interests and ideas

Document your interest areas in the table below. If you have more interests that you want to explore, simply extend the table. In the study section include any possible majors, minors, electives you are thinking of studying (you can research these on Degrees to Careers or in the program handbooks in What Can I Study?), as well as any study areas you have enjoyed in the past or might enjoy in the future.

View activity

Strategies to explore your interests

How would you start investigating your course?

In order to make an informed choice about which course to start, it is important to...

  • Really understand the academic demands of that course:
    This includes finding answers to questions such as: entry requirements; subjects covered; and the structure of the course, for example - choice of electives, assessment and opportunities for work integrated learning.
  • Find out what assumed knowledge there is:
    Whilst there are no pre-requisites for most courses, some do have assumed knowledge. This means exactly what it says - we assume that you have a specific level of knowledge of certain subjects which will enable you to cope with a particular course. Whilst there are students who study these courses without the assumed knowledge, they can find it is much harder to complete the study requirements.
  • Have your questions answered
    An excellent and effective way to gain advice on the required knowledge of a particular course is through contacting the Course Coordinator. They can also advise you on ways to expand on your 'assumed' knowledge before you start your studies. There are a number of options, including Bridging courses, so ASK! Why make your life more difficult?

Remember, exploring more than one research option can give you an even deeper understanding into a particular course if you need it.

Choosing Majors

Having looked at the course information in detail, in order to make decisions on majors you should now be able to answer the following questions:

  • What majors are possible?
  • What is contained in each of them?
  • What are some comparisons?
  • Where do they lead?

Activity Two: Choosing your majors

Use the What Can I Study and Degrees to Careers pages to explore the THREE courses that are currently of most interest to you.

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Further Information

Look at the following links to gain more insight into the career outcomes for each course.

Other useful websites include:

Job/Occupational interests

At this stage of the module you should have a few ideas regarding some of the occupations that are of interest to you. If you are still struggling to generate ideas the following websites are designed to help you make connections between your subject interests and career outcomes:

You don't need to decide on a specific occupation, rather, you should have an idea of the breadth of opportunities that relate to the course you would like to do. If you start a degree, you'll be looking at a minimum of 3 years before you graduate. In that time there will be jobs created that don't currently exist, so it is good to think about the big picture, be open minded and think of the technical (job specific e.g. IT programming) and personal (e.g. communication or analytical) skills that you may like to develop and use in your career.

Activity Three: Occupational interests

  • List 3 different occupations from 3 different sectors that are of interest to you in the first column of the table provided below. These may be the ones you listed in Activity One or you may have discovered new areas of interest since then. It does not matter if you have ruled out one of the options, as long as there are aspects of the role that interest you.
  • Search for each of the 3 occupations using My Future - The Facts. Each profile will provide you with 9 categories of information.
  • Carefully research the information provided and the related links to complete the table.

View activity

Industry Sector

You may already have ideas about the kind of industry that you want to work in. If this is linked to a particular occupation, the Further Information section of Myfuture - The Facts will supply you with a list of professional associations, advisory bodies and relevant government departments (you will need to search for a specific occupation to get to this). Industry lists are also available from: Myfuture - Occupations by Industry and Graduate Opportunities - Industries .

You can also go directly to the website of employers that you know of in that industry.

For example, if you are interested in the health sector...

1. Think of the variety of employment opportunities!
The NSW Health website provides a list of occupations, from Medical Engineers to Human Resources staff.

2. Compare and contrast
Look at a range of health service providers such as public and private hospitals, allied health providers, the Defence Force etc.

3. Consider other Industries
Where do people need health care? This may link back to your interests - sport, aid agencies or even Everest base camp!

Activity Four: Industry sectors

List 3 industry sectors that interest you, ideas about companies that you could research in that industry and who you could ask for help ie: family and friends who work in the industry.

View activity

Interests

Job search sites

Corporate responsibility

Topic 3 Further research suggestions

Online

Australian Jobs is an annual government publication that provides national and state level information on labour market trends detailing such things as Skills Shortage professions, industry profiles along with a job prospects matrix.
Some sites that provide labour market information including employment prospects, salary information and qualifications required are:

Professional Associations can be an excellent source of information - some more than others. A number of examples can be found on the Degrees to Careers pages.

Attending Events

Throughout the year there are a number of Advisory and Open Days that are useful to attend to help with your research.

So get out there and start talking to people!

 

Talking to People

Once you've done your research it is good to test that information with real people in the job. Why not compile a list of questions based on your research and find someone who may be able to answer these questions. How do you do that I hear you ask? Think about:

  • Everyone you know - do they do something that you would like to do? If not, do they know someone who does what you are planning to do, or can they give you contact details of someone in the department that interests you?
  • Businesses near where you live? Why not call or email them and ask the manager if you can have a chat with them, about what they and their business do, to help you with your career research?
  • The companies you discovered in your research - why not approach them directly to ask for help with your career research?

Experience the Working Environment

You may decide to see if your job interests match your expectations. Through the extensive research that you have just completed you may have a few ideas about where you'd like to gain a few days experience or observation. If not, ask friends and family for help locating someone who works in the industry you want to try, or talk to your education provider to see if they can help. There may be some restrictions to what you can do based on the Fair Work Act, 2009. If you're currently in education ask your provider about insurance cover to do this.

Topic 4 Action planning

OK, so you've worked through all of the activities. There are probably a few things that you now need to do before you complete your UAC application and make a successful transition into university. It is a good idea to write these down.

What do you now need to do to achieve your goal? This includes the information you are missing to make an informed choice, the people you need to speak to and work experience possibilities. Also, what if Plan A does not work; what's plan B and C? Before you get started, however, lets briefly go over some of the terminology used:

Plan A: Your first choice of degree and career path
Plan B: An alternative pathway to achieve ultimate career goals
Action required: What you need to do / the additional information you need to find / people you need to talk to.
Short term goal: What you need to accomplish your UAC application
Medium term goal: What you need to accomplish by the end of week 3 at uni
Long term goal: What you need to accomplish before Graduation

Activity Five: Action plans

Action Plans

In the table below complete a Plan A and Plan B for your short, medium and long term goals. Be sure to include a completion date for each goal.

Plan A

View activity

Now  it's time to make a decision. Knowing what is important to you can help you to clarify your career interests and goals. Sometimes you can have a clear picture of what you would like to do but when you see that this might mean that you will have to give up your lifestyle or move away from your family you find that you are not prepared to make these sacrifices.

View checklist

One last thing

Is there any support available to help me with my UAC application?

Yes! For guidelines on UAC preferences see UAC.edu.au

What if I'm still struggling to make a decision?

Have you thoroughly researched your options and completed all sections of this module? If not then you are going to find making a decision difficult, you need to make an INFORMED choice and this will take time - there are no short cuts!

Am I just worrying too much?

If you've done all your research and are still struggling then you probably need to discuss your options with a careers counsellor. Remember it’s not a decision for life; you can change your mind so why not choose the course that suits your self assessment profile the best and give it a go?

Creative Commons Licence

Prepare for Uni is adapted from the Career Development Program of the Queensland University of Technology. Licensed under Creative Commons License.